Yep, it’s all there in the title! Sometimes when things seem to be going a little too well we brace ourselves for impact out of fear. Today, I hope to help my readers in solving any large (or small) issue within their lives, teams, businesses, or relationships with a proven line of thinking that logically determines a beneficial and realistic outcome!

This way of thinking has been around for a long time. In fact, it is used by any number of coaches, consultants, critical thinkers, and generally effective people! There is a simple sequence of thought that, when used correctly, can mean the difference between a solution and the best solution to any problem you can think of. This sequence comes in the form of questions that you can ask yourself about any situation or issue you face to get a better handle on your reality, and how to craft a better one.

Let’s dive into what this sequence is, and how you can master it to become a force to be reckoned with. Your problems will never see it coming!

The Sequence

Just like ROYGBIV, there is a proper sequence of thinking that allows you to become more productive and effective when tackling issues!
Just like ROYGBIV, there is a proper sequence of thinking that allows you to become more productive and effective when tackling issues!

Question 1: Where Are You Now?

Without a solid grip on your current situation, you can never hope to change. Most people think “any change will be a good change” but that isn’t quite true. Just like the ambiguity that is present with the word “potential” there is an ambiguity that must be faced and managed with change as well.

Purpose: To discover why you are looking for change within your life/organization. How does the issue at hand fit in with the strategic vision of your future (company, relationships, etc. It’s ALL INCLUSIVE!)? And what are the key drivers behind why this issue is important to resolve? You may possibly want to reframe the issues that you are experiencing in order to bring up larger and more complex issues that may be putting off noticeable “symptoms.” Remember, don’t treat the symptoms, treat the sole issue.

Questions to ask yourself:
Why are you focusing on this issue?
What has changed that gave birth to this problem?
What have you tried so far to resolve the issue? (Has anything been relatively effective?)

Question 2: What Do You Want?

It sounds like a bold question, and it is, but its importance is gravely understated in today’s world. Without a grip on how you feel life should be, you are swinging the stick blindly with no piñata in sight! You must become aware of your needs and desired outcomes in order to get a handle on what needs to be changed to meet those outcomes!

Purpose: To establish the objectives behind resolving the issue itself. Try to reveal the highest-value (most beneficial) outcome of the problem rather than blindly accepting any change at all. Don’t focus on change, rather, focus on what you believe can help the situation in the long run.

Questions to ask yourself:
What’s the ultimate outcome you’re hoping for?
How will you be better off after resolving the issue (make it specific)?
What will be different at the end vs. now, when you’re in the middle of the fight?

Note: Always bring it back to “why” not “how” in this section.
Having a plan as to “how” is important, but only after you consider “why” the problem needs to be resolved in the first place!

Question 3: How Can You Measure Your Success?

Define/Create the tools that can be measured to determine your success!
Define/Create the tools that can be measured to determine your success!

Without the proper indicators of success, you will never be able to track your changes along the way. You will, again, be swinging the stick with no piñata in sight! Determine indicators that can act as milestones, not delayed responses or the effects of a solved problem. You want them to be measurable along the way to provide you the most direction.

Purpose: To reveal how to properly measure your success in terms of the desired outcome. This is the “how” to the “why”. Strive to reveal the metrics that can be measured along the way in order to define overall success. Deriving the indicators of success makes the outcomes more concrete and achievable.

Questions to ask yourself:
How will you know if your efforts have been successful?
Are there numerical (quantitative) performance targets?
What are the leading indicators? (How can we measure success along the way?)
Are there concrete numbers that would indicate success to strive for (in relation to the indicators mentioned above)?

Question 4: What Could Go Wrong?

This isn’t meant to be rhetorical in any way. There is a fine line between realism and pessimism, and I encourage you to dance in the realm of optimistic realism: That is, to think realistically regarding issues and potential downfalls, but to do so in a way that does not discourage you, but rather empowers you to succeed. Thinking of what could go wrong is the best way to prepare for the unexpected; doing so makes you more secure, more willing to try, and more able to succeed.

Purpose: To unmask your apprehensions and develop trust and consideration in yourself. The goal here is to prepare you to design a perfect approach to tackling the issue, that meets your needs without unnecessary friction. Asking these questions prepares you for possible adversity that you can properly handle later on.

Questions to ask yourself:
What are some key risks or concerns you have about change?
What could potentially go wrong as you achieve milestones in resolving a problem? (How can you prepare?)
Are you concerned about potential failure?
Are there people, systems, or other personal aspects that may have to be considered while you try and resolve a problem?

Question 5: What is This Worth?

Defining the project value is beneficial to securing a good ROI and making that ROI visible to the prospect/client.
Defining the project value is beneficial to securing a good ROI and making that ROI visible to the prospect/client.

Anybody can use these questions to make a change, however, this one is necessary for a certain profession and must be included. It is not entirely necessary if you are attempting to fix a personal, or subjective issue within your life.

Evaluating a project is a great way to clear the doubts of your client, or in this case, move risk off the table!

Purpose: To set quantitative project valuations that are inherently conservative, but place your value and expertise in the light of project value to the client. Use the indicators of project success to quantify your value to your prospects based on the concrete numbers discussed earlier.

Note: Example Used from David A. Fields book, The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients. It is an excellent book, and necessary for any practicing consultant!

Example:

Project success is estimated to produce 6 million dollars increase in 3 years’ time.
Perhaps (given the indicators of success and other variables) project success (deliverables) only accounts for 50% of project worth.
Perhaps (given in-house teams and talent) bringing in a consultant is only a measure for another 50% of the remaining value.
Consider your personal (consultant) success rate. Perhaps you estimate there is an 80% chance that you can get the project to succeed.

Therefore, $6,000,000 overall value
x50% (project contribution) = $3,000,000
x50% (Consultant contribution) = $1,500,000
x80% (likelihood of success) = risk-adjusted project worth of $1,200,000

This should NOT be your consulting fee, rather, your ability to put the value you provide in light of the over-arching goal. This aids prospects in becoming aware of what they have to gain by your help!

Questions to ask clients/prospects:
We’ve discussed the gain, what could it potentially cost you by not employing the project? (Answers may vary, depending on specifics. Usually, they revolve around job-performance, company outreach, etc.)
What is in it for you (the client/prospect), personally?

Question 6: What is (and is not) Within Your Power to Change?

This final question is necessary for determining the parameters behind your ability to be an effective force in the solution of any issue. How can you hope to resolve an issue when it is outside of your direct control? The answer: You can’t. Setting up these parameters allows you to visualize and gather the power you have to contribute (and/or resolve) to the solution of an issue. Perhaps you cannot solve it alone (common in organizations), but you will have a better idea of your part in the solution.

Purpose: To reveal project parameters that will give you a better idea of the scope of your abilities to act within the confines of the solution to the issue. David A. Fields says that, ultimately, think of money, people, and time (geography and language might be appropriate restrictions to make clear as well). Are there restrictions regarding these things? Also, consider company culture as well (in the case of organizational issues).

Questions to ask yourself:
Should anyone be directly involved, or excluded, from the solution to this issue?
Who can I talk to that may have direct experience with the issue and/or any attempts to remedy it?
Is there a timeframe or time-related issues to keep in mind?
Are there money or cost issues to keep in mind?
What am I in control of directly (without needing anybody else)?

Conclusion:

Ultimately, by using this method to resolve issues within your life or organization, you are creating an effective structure and putting your effort into perspective! This often results in an orderly and quick resolution to any issue, which means more time to do what really matters!

For more posts and cool blogs, click HERE!
If you’d like a specifically related blog, click HERE!
For the book, The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients, click HERE!

Hopefully, I was able to help you solve a problem today!

-Austin Denison